Five years ago, 'The Split Program' was released. At that time, barely anyone really knew about either Caliban or Heaven Shall Burn, at least outside the Metalcore community. Today, that has changed, which you can see on the first glance at the packageing. A big sticker tells you that "the spearhead of european Metalcore returns" to bring us the new 'Split Program II'.
Some general impressions:
As before, the LP is divided into a part for each band. Heaven Shall burn start the LP with their part of six songs (of which one is an instrumental, in the style of the instrumentals of their latest album 'Antigone'). Then follows Caliban with five songs. A little breakdown on the two parts:
Heaven Shall Burn
Two brand new songs and three cover songs, plus the instrumental. That is what awaits in the part by HSB. I think the instrumental was written by the same guy that wrote the instrumentals for 'Antigone', at least it is in the same style. More... orchestral, with piano, strings and so on. The quality of the sound is overall very good. Small synthie parts are used as intros or on bridges ('Unleash enlightment', 'No one will shed a tear'). Solid work by bass and drums (though the bass drowns, as usual), and screams and shouts from the 'upper spheres' (or in other words, pretty high pitched). No melodic vocals on this one. If you're looking for Metalcore with melodic vocals here and there (aka 'the Killswitch Engage thing'), you should look somewhere else. Nice dual guitar work, though I must say it's better on 'Antigone'. The choice of the two cover songs is nice, as they are far from overplayed ('The Downfall of Christ' by Merauder, and 'Destroy Fascism' be Endstand).
Caliban serve one new song ('The Revenge') and four re-recordings of older songs (some that were already present on the first Split Program). Musicianship here is good as well, all solid work. You'll find more or less melodic vocals here as well, though not much (mostly on 'The Revenge') . A bit sad is that the bass drowns here as well, but the guitar work and drums are pretty good. Again, if you're looking for the 'KsE thing', you should look elsewhere. You won't find it here either. The sound quality is as good as on their current albums, which is really nice for the old tracks. The original recordings had... well, let's just say the quality was not as good as this.
Good and Bad:
I would not have expected anything less by both bands. Straight forward, no questions asked, no prisinors taken. Especially the new stuff by Heaven Shall Burn really impressed me. They pick up there where 'Antigone' finished. The chosen cover version are good, and like I mentioned not overplayed (normally cover versions are often only fun for a few listens to me, as I have heard the song over and over again in it's normal form on the radio etc). The melodic parts are a great contrast to the hard stuff, thumbs up.
The Caliban part is on a similar level of quality, but the impression is not as good as the one of the HSB side. I know the older stuff as well, and so this is just a notch up in sound quality. One more song... not really worth for one interested in Caliban. If you don't know the older stuff, this is just as good as the HSB half I guess. Not more negatives here.
This is entitled 'Heaven Shall burn vs Caliban', and Heaven Shall Burn is the winner for me. More fresh material and the original cover versions win it for me over the re-recordings. Putting that aside, you still get a high quality piece of Metalcore music, from the two best Metalcore bands from Germany that I know of.
Only real turn-off besides the re-recordings of Caliban was the price. I had to search a long, no make that a LONG time to find a store that carried it for less then 18 bucks. The LP is good, but not worth nearly 20 bucks. That's almost the price of a 2-CD sampler here... And for an LP that runs about 36 to 38 minutes, that makes it even more expensive. Too expensive
So, taking the cons into calculation, this album deserves:
Final rating: 3.5/5